By Sean Chase
On Wednesday, July 7, The Grand Rapids Drive, formerly the Detroit Pistons’ G League representative, announced they will be known as the Grand Rapids Gold. As well as revealing the team’s new logo and color scheme in a hype video released on Twitter.
The rebranding has been in the works since April 27, 2020, after it was announced that the Denver Nuggets were aligning the Drive.
“This new affiliation and corresponding name change is one of the biggest moves we’ve made as a franchise,” stated Steve Jbara, president of the Grand Rapids Gold, in a press release. “Aligning ourselves further with the Denver Nuggets, a team that recently advanced past the first round of the NBA playoffs for the third consecutive season, further elevates the professional basketball experience here in Grand Rapids, and we couldn’t be more excited to get back on the court this fall.”
The Gold’s name was chosen as a way to pay homage to the mining history of Colorado as well as one of Grand Rapids’ many nicknames “River City.” The team’s uniforms will feature a river embedded in each ‘R’ and will follow the colorway adopted by the Denver Nuggets in 2018.
“We are extremely excited about the new name and logo of the Grand Rapid Gold,” stated Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly in a press release. “We feel the new look aligns well with both the Nuggets and Grand Rapids organizations and are excited to see it in action on the court next season.”
Detroit’s affiliation with the Drive was set to expire at the end of the 2020-21 season as Tom Gores, owner of the Pistons, looked to move their G League affiliate closer to Detroit. Gores purchased the Phoenix Suns G League team in July 2020 and relocated the team to Detroit. In Oct. 2020, Gores revealed the team’s new name would be the Motor City Cruise.
With the Cruise scheduled to begin playing at the start of the 2021-22 season, the Drive’s last season with the Pistons was cut short due to COVID-19. Grand Rapids declined to participate in the G League’s bubble season, effectively ending their partnership.
Grand Rapids Community College had maintained a relationship with the Drive, partnering to highlight students through the GRCC Student of the Month program. This program gave a GRCC student four tickets to a Drive game. At which the student was recognized for their accomplishments while they presented the game ball to referees after halftime.
“GRCC started partnering with the Grand Rapids Drive about four years ago, and the college is thrilled to continue working with the Grand Rapids Gold,” wrote Dave Murray, GRCC’s communications director, in an email to The Collegiate. “The team has always aimed to be partners with the community, and we’ve appreciated the opportunity to tell our GRCC story to fans.”
In addition to the GRCC Student of the Month program, the Drive and GRCC have partnered in a variety of ways in the past.
“We work together in a number of ways in addition to advertising on video boards and in the program,” Murray wrote. “The basketball team has featured two GRCC ‘takeover’ nights where Drive players wore special jerseys with GRCC athletic logos. The team on both nights raised money for GRCC scholarships through an in-game promotion and auctioning the game-worn jerseys.”
Because the Drive did not participate in the bubble season, this program was on hold. However, now as Grand Rapids’ newest basketball team begins ramping up for next season, GRCC looks forward to continuing their partnership with the Gold.
“We’re blessed to have professional teams in West Michigan that are community focused and support GRCC,” Murray wrote. “They all provide us wonderful ways to share the stories of our students and hopefully inspire others to follow in their footsteps!”